GUEST COLUMN: Hudson Valley Businesses Need a Strong Film Tax Credit

GUEST COLUMN: Hudson Valley Businesses Need a Strong Film Tax Credit
Mike Oates
CEO, Hudson Valley Economic Development

In recent years, the Hudson Valley has witnessed enormous growth in the film and television industry with more productions choosing to shoot in our region than ever before.

Television shows, the largest type of production with the biggest budgets, have even started to base productions here, with major television shows based in the Mid-Hudson Valley since 2019: “I Know This Much Is True” (HBO), “White House Plumbers” (HBO), “Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin” Seasons 1 and 2 (HBO Max), “Sex Lives of College Girls” (HBO Max), “Life of Beth” (Hulu), and “Poker Face” (MRC).

These shows, along with the many movies filmed in our region, have spent hundreds of millions of dollars at local businesses and provided thousands of jobs in the Hudson Valley, opening career pathways that did not previously exist in our region.

This growth was made possible by the Empire State Film Tax Credit, which incentivizes film and television productions to base their operations in New York. Since 2016, the Film Tax Credit provides a slightly higher credit to productions shooting outside the production hub of New York City, recognizing that upstate contains several emerging markets, including the Mid-Hudson Valley, Capitol Region, Buffalo, Schenectady, Syracuse and Rochester.

As a result, several large-scale soundstages have opened, new specialized businesses have launched, and a variety of upstate industries have experienced revenue boosts due to productions, including retail, hotels and restaurants.

The momentum of the film and television industry in the Hudson Valley and upstate is at risk as New York has recently started losing productions to other locations offering more competitive film tax incentives, particularly New Jersey and Georgia. As a result, residents who work as specialized crew on film and television productions are experiencing unemployment or having to travel south to work, and upstate businesses are losing revenue streams because productions are choosing jurisdictions with significantly higher tax incentives.

Film and television production is a highly-coveted market because of its economic impact, which can extend beyond the lucrative production and post-production phases when a beloved movie or show generates tourism from fans. The Mid-Hudson Valley Regional Economic Development Council has identified film and television production as a priority industry cluster, and there are several significant soundstage projects in the works that will enable even more projects to take advantage of the incredible, varied landscapes, seasoned crew and talent pool in the Hudson Valley. The same can be said for several upstate regions as well.

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed expansion of the Film Production Tax Credit, and bills from State Sen. Michelle Hinchey and Assemblymember Didi Barrett to strengthen the film tax credit upstate (S4832 and A05003), are critical to retaining the film and television industry for all of New York.

An enhanced film tax credit program upstate will attract productions, investment, and economic opportunity for small businesses catering the film industry. Numerous professionals and businesses throughout the state have spoken out in support for an enhanced film tax credit program. All of New York wants this business—and this business should be in New York.

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